Washington, D.C.-based Universal Air Travel Plan, Inc. (UATP) has added Amtrak as a corporate partner, allowing corporate card holders to make Amtrak purchases at all points of sale with their UATP cards. UATP accounts are accepted for corporate business travel by several airlines and travel agencies worldwide.
"We have seen a shift in corporate travel to rail fromair in the last several months; having UATP accepted by Amtrak at all points of sale will allow UATP clients to seamlessly make travel plans on all one card,UATP," said Ralph Kaiser, UATP president and CEO. "This is a strategic move for UATP and we look forward to providing our client base with all the tools and options needed for their corporate travel programs."
"Corporate travel on Amtrak has grown significantly and our clients have made it known they want the ability to pay for Amtrak purchases with their UATP cards, we had to respond," said Craig White, Amtrak senior director, Travel Industry Sales. "It is a win-win situation; the corporate client is able to use their preferred form of payment, UATP, and Amtrak is able to reduce expenses.”
Portland, Ore.’s TriMet will proceed with preliminary engineering for its sixth light rail line, this one to Milwaukie, Ore., with approval from the Federal Transit Administration.
FTA’s approval allows TriMet to proceed with the 7.3-mile Orange Line extending from Portland State University to Milwaukie. TriMet says the extension’s construction will generate 12,300 jobs; the line is set to open in 2015.
TriMet’s MAX Green Line, linking Clackamas Town Center with the Portland Transit Mall and Union Station, is set to open this May. Portland’s first light rail line went into service in 1986, linking the city with eastern suburb Gresham; the city was the second in the U.S., following San Diego, to initiate “new start” LRT.
London, Ontario-based Global Railway Industries, Ltd. says its revenue increased 68% to C$61.8 million (US$49 million), for fiscal year 2008 compared with year-earlier totals, while fourth-quarter revenue rose 59% to C$16.6 million (US$12.7 million).
Net earnings, however, were less rosy; the company lost almost C$3 million for the fourth quarter, ending the full year with a net earnings loss of C$1.68 million, or a loss of 11 cents a share.
The company attributed the revenue growth and net negative earnings for both periods to its acquisition in November 2007 of CAD Railway Industries, Ltd., a producer of remanufactured locomotives, locomotive components, and power generation units. Company Chairman, President, and CEO Terry McManaman, in a statement, said the continued integration of CAD would largely “be in place and operating effectively in 2009.” In addition, the company has in place multiyear contracts involving infrastructure spending for passenger and transit interests.
“The order backlog for Global’s subsidiary Bach-SimpsonCorp., whose long-term contracts and products are focused on the rail commuter and passenger rail industry, increased by 77% to C$11.3 million between Dec. 31, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2008,” McManaman said.
The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) has recognized seven railroads with its President’s Award, honoring companies “that truly achieved exemplary safety accomplishments, both for the year and over extended periods.”
ASLRRA, in a statement, said, “Four of these railroads earned President's Awards for reaching their 34th consecutive year without an FRA-reportable personal injury. These railroads are: the Delta Valley & Southern Railway Co.; the Hollis & Eastern Railroad Co.; the Louisville, New Albany & Corydon Railroad; and the Omaha Lincoln & Beatrice RailwayCo.”
The association noted that Willamette & Pacific Railroad, Inc. (pictured) achieved two President's Awards, "the second time in the history of the President’s Awards that this has occurred. The WPRR earned awards for having the lowest FSI (frequency/severity index) in the 250,000+ man-hours category, as well as for having the most man-hours while maintaining an FSI of 0.00." The Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co. claimed a President's Award for having the most man-hours below the industry average FSI.
The West Texas & Lubbock Railway Co. won the Most Improved Award.
ASLRRA said 235 of its railroad members earned Jake Awards with Distinction for reaching the ultimate goal of achieving a 0.00 FSI for the entire year. An additional 105 railroads received Jake Awards for having an FSI rate lower than theindustry average of 20.26.
More details, including a full list of winners for the Jake Awards, can be obtained at the ASLRRA’s website, and looking under the association’s “Hot Tracks” category.
New safety statistics posted on the Federal Railroad Administration's website Wednesday show that railroad fatalities declined 13.5% to a total of 45 in January compared with January 2008. Trespasser fatalities were down 15.4% to 22 and deaths at highway/rail grade crossings declined 17.4% to 19. There were three employee fatalities in January, compared with one in January last year.
These figures generally extended the trend set in 2008, when total fatalities declined 5.7% to 797, with trespassing fatalities down 3.4% to 454 and grade crossing fatalities down 14.9% to 285. There were 25 employee fatalities last year, compared with 17 in the prior year.
Comparing January 2009 with January 2008, total accidents/incidents were down 15.5% to 892; train accidents declined 23.1% to 170; the number of collisions dropped 31.6$ to 13; derailments were down 22.2% to 123; and yard accidents decreased 21.6% to 80.
Palo Alto, Calif., is hiring legal counsel to object to plans by the California High Speed Rail Authority to route trains along Caltrain right-of-way. The city council claims the authority’s 2008 environmental certification did not fully disclose the potential impact of high speed rail to neighborhoods along the route.
The move counters the city council’s endorsement of the HSR project last fall. "The more we've gotten into this, it's become clear there have been a number of procedural defects," said city council representative Larry Klein. "There was perhaps not as much disclosure asthere should have been. I think [the legal action] can help improve that process."
Nearby Menlo Park and Atherton earlier objected to the current HSR plans, filing suit last August.
The $44 billion HSR system would run from San Diego through Los Angeles to two northern termini, one at Sacramento, the state capital, and the other in San Francisco via San Jose (and Palo Alto). California voters last fall approved Proposition 1A, which generates more than $9.9 billion in state funding throughbond sales. Trains would operate at speeds of up to 220 mph over a system of 700 miles.
California’s two U.S. senators and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) subsequently pledged to seek federal dollars to support the project. Joined by others in the California congressional delegation, they submitted a letter last week to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood praising the Obama Administration's support for HSR and intercity rail, which "will help create thousands of high-paying jobs in California and across the country."